Saturday, January 29, 2011

Digital Wins Reason #27: Amateur Audio Restoration

One of the things I enjoy about converting my vinyl to digital is that it allows me the opportunity to make my music sound as good as possible.
After ripping my vinyl (at 24 bit / 48k), these are some of the options I have:
1) Maximizing The Gain - my tool of choice is Peak from Bias.  Been using it for years, and a scaled down verision is available on the cheap! The "Change Gain" feature, when used with the "Clipguard" option, is an easy way to maximize the gain of your song. It will analyze the audio and automatically set the proposed gain at the maximum possible level to avoid clipping.  Tip: get rid of loud clicks and pops first as these will prevent you from getting the highest overall gain possible.
2) Removing Pops - I use a couple of different methods for removing clicks or pops.  For a very short pop, you may be able to zoom way down and simply cut out the offending audio. Of course in some sections of audio this may be noticable, so technique number two is to highlight the offending pop, and use the "Change Gain" tool to bring the gain down as low as you can without it sounding odd.
3) Removing Hiss - this one's a bit trickier to remove.  You can try to use an EQ or low pass filter to remove this hiss, which usually resides in the high-end frequencies.  Be careful though - a heavy hand with the EQ can really kill a song.  In most cases, the best you can hope for is minimizing the noise, not removing it completely.
4) Rejoining Splits - Ever had a 45 where a long song was split between the sides as "Part 1" and "Part 2".  Well, with a little bit of effort you can rejoin them into one continuous song!  This is simply a matter of pasting the side two audio at the end of the side one audio.  Of course, you'll need to do some trimming at the end of side one and the beginning of side two before the two songs mesh properly - that's the time-consuming part. Well worth the time to extend a good jam a few more minutes!
5) Advanced Cut N' Paste Repair - there may be sections of audio which require more attention than a quick snip or EQ.  For these areas, one solution may be to cut a similar section from elsewhere in the song and paste it over the offending part.  Of course, there's a limited amount of issues that can be resolved this way, dependant on the particular song.  But if that pop or scratch is destroying one drum or a repeating riff, you may be in luck. Using this technique it is also possibe to make one great sounding version of a tune using the good bits from two or more mediocre copies of a record. Don't forget, if the problem is only on one channel of the audio, you can paste a section from the other channel!
Here's a small example, showing how a little bit of trimming, cutting, and gain control can help a scratched record. The patient is Johnny Adams' "Closer To You". The result isn't perfect, but much more listenable I think. Got more tips? Send 'em!

No comments:

Post a Comment